Brian ‘Tommy’ Thomas: A Musical Celebration

Festival Players past and present gathered at Ashburton Hall, St Faith’s School, Cambridge, on Saturday 30 September to celebrate the contribution of Brian ‘Tommy’ Thomas as he steps down as the society’s musical director, after more than 40 years.


From The Arcadians (1973) to Legally Blonde (2016), Tommy has been the musical driving force behind no fewer than 54 productions for Festival Players (and more than 120 productions for Cambridge-based societies as a whole).

The celebration event featured Festival Players from many of those shows, performing a hand-picked selection of Tommy’s favourite numbers, as well as a specially-choreographed interpretation of Harlequinade, an orchestral suite written by Tommy. Interspersed throughout were tributes, memories and anecdotes from friends old and new, including messages from those unable to make the evening itself.

The final number of the night saw Tommy lift his baton one more time, as he led the ensemble through his own arrangement of the Disney classic, When You Wish Upon A Star.

Tommy’s wife Linda presented him with a very special celebration cake (pictured above), praising his ‘patience, encouragement and dependability’. The committee also gifted him a photograph book, featuring pictures from almost all of his 54 productions, put together by Suzanne Emerson and Matt Gregory.

Audience and performers then raised a toast to Tommy to thank him for his inspiration, dedication, support and talent during his 43 years at the helm.

For more pictures from the night, visit the Festival Players Facebook Page.

Change of venue for Tommy’s event

Due to higher than anticipated advance ticket sales, we have changed the venue for Brian ‘Tommy’ Thomas: A Musical Celebration. The event will now take place on Saturday 30 September at St Faith’s School, Trumpington Road at 7.30pm.

All previously purchased tickets are still valid, and you should have received an email from We Got Tickets confirming this venue change.

An extra 40 tickets have now been released, but once they go, that’s it, so please buy now to avoid disappointment!

Tickets are £10 (to include a glass of fizz and some nibbles) and can be purchased via the Festival Players website. A cash bar will be available on the night.

The event will feature performers and hand-picked songs from Tommy’s time in the orchestra pit. We’ll also be including a special performance of Tommy’s own arrangements, to be conducted by the man himself.

It’s also very much a social occasion – the bar will be open before and after the performance, and there will be plenty of time for you to chat with Tommy and other Festival Players past and present.

We’re keen to invite anyone that has crossed musical paths with Tommy during his 40-year association with Festival Players, so please share this event with anyone who you think would be interested.

Still time to share a musical memory!
We could still do with a few more memories of your times with Tommy. We’ve some really entertaining ones to share, but there’s always room for more. Whether or not you can make the evening, if you have a tale to share, please contact me (Warren) via email as soon as possible.

‘Company’ Cast Announced – update

We are very excited to announce the cast of ‘Company’:

Bobby – Steve Nicholson
Sarah – Gabriella Fletcher
Harry – Marshall Leeke
Jenny – Magdalena Zun
David – Matthew Brown
Peter – Alastair Horne
Amy – Emma Vieceli
Paul – Andrew Ruddick
Susan – Karen Salter
Larry – Warren Clark
Joanne – Fran Watson
Marta – Eloise George
April – Catriona Clarke
Kathy – Samantha Billing

Thanks to all those who auditioned. The standard across the board was extremely high and you all gave the production team some very difficult choices!
Let rehearsals commence!

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels collects outstanding reviews

Local Secrets called the show “Tremendous, and full-on funny” praising the principals, ensemble and the musical numbers as “a joy to behold”

Read the full review here:

Meanwhile the official NODA review by Julie Petrucci called the show “Festival Players at the peak of their form”  – the full review follows:

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Festival Players
ADC Theatre Cambridge
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a prime example of how a well-known film can translate so
well to the stage in the form of musical theatre. With great songs, loveable rogue
characters and a clever plot, Festival Players took this show to their heart.
Director STUART SADLER, Musical Director JAMES HARVEY and Choreographer KIRSTY SMITH are individually exceptionally talented. Together they made a fantastic team. The
audience saw clearly the fruits of their talents throughout the evening
The production design team of STUART SADLER, ANDREW FEATHERSTONE and JONATHAN SPRIGGS produced admirable sets with other scenery flown in or rolled on by an efficient PENGUIN CLUB stage crew.

The costumes, of which there were many, by LIZ MILWAY added colour and style.
Backstage costume changes must have been pretty frantic. The lighting, designed by
JAMES WRIGHT, sometimes timed with finger snaps from one of the lead characters,
was well thought through although there were odd spots across the front of the apron
not well lit. However, some of the cast appeared aware of this and imperceptibly
adjusted their position. The 14-piece orchestra, set stage left above the action were
throughout quite exceptional. Only once did the underscoring start to overcome the
dialogue but this was swiftly adjusted. Likewise early radio-mic feedback problems
were nipped in the bud. Nicely controlled NICK HALL.
The Ensemble was kept busy with the Director and Choreographer using them at
every perceived opportunity. They added to rather than distracted from the action
thus giving the show real impact visually. Some of them had a few lines but all
created individual and identifiable characters which now and again were used to add a
soupçon of humour.
There are no well-known numbers in the show, but the music is catchy enough and
well sung by both the principals and the Ensemble. There was some fine harmonising
from offstage too.
Principally the show is a five-hander therefore much depends on the quality of the
leading quintet and there was not a weak character amongst them.
In an impeccable performance WARREN CLARK as Lawrence, really was the suave,
womaniser that was required of the script. He has a terrific singing voice and great
stage presence.
SIMON YOUNG playing Freddy, gave a positively brilliant interpretation of the character.
Great facial expressions, super singing voice and well acted. His Freddy was a great
foil for Lawrence and what can one say about Ruprecht? That scene was absolutely
They were joined by GEORGINA SKINNER playing Christine Colgate with verve and
panache. I liked her almost gauche approach as she gave a very accomplished performance. Great voice too.
I loved RICHARD SCARR as Lawrence’s friend, police Inspector, Andre Thibault which he
played with style and with a great sense of fun. He was a good contrast to the smooth
Lawrence and the enthusiastic Freddy and later came into his own when his romance
blossomed with Muriel. A fine performance .
I very much enjoyed too EMILY REDFARN’s portrayal of Muriel. Although her accent
wavered a bit she delivered her songs well, and achieved an almost naive feeling to
the woman who was basically being taken to the cleaners!! I thought the scene with
Andre was excellent – showing a different side to them both!
Another plus was a delightful cameo from JESSICA CORBETT making her Festival Players
debut as Jolene and she did it full justice. Oklahoma went down a storm with the
Ensemble joining in vocally and energetically with some great line dancing.
This slick production skipped along with much humour and, at times, almost slapstick
comedy. Full of performances which wouldn’t disgrace a West End show and, with
another seven performances to go, I suspect tickets are going to become veritable
gold dust.
This is Festival Players at the pinnacle of their form.
Julie Petrucci
Regional Representative, NODA East District Four South.




Our next show – COMPANY

Our next show will be Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s :
This brilliantly smart and poignant observation of modern relationships is an era-defining musical, showcasing some of Sondheim’s most outstanding songs including ‘Marry Me a Little’, ‘The Ladies Who Lunch’ and the iconic ‘Being Alive’.

It will be presented at the ADC Theatre, Cambridge from 9-13 January 2018.

We are very pleased to confirm that Company will be directed by Cat Nicol, with Ana Sanderson as musical director. Stay tuned for ticket details!

NODA Award win for Return to the Forbidden Planet

winner2016.pngThe Festival Players 2016 production of Return to the Forbidden Planet has won the award for Best Musical at the NODA East Gala Awards, held in St Ives on 9 April.

The award was collected by Festival Players President Linda Thomas and committee member Michael Husband, on behalf of the production team (director Warren Clark, musical director Joe Griffiths, choreographer Kirsty Smith, and technical director Ian Bruno).

‘Thanks to everyone that helped make this show into an award winner,’ said Warren. ‘It was a huge technical challenge to transform the empty box at Comberton into the interior of a spaceship. The ever-dependable Penguins went beyond the call of duty as they decamped to unfamiliar surroundings and built a complex set involving projection, live cameras, an airlock, and a magnificent console complete with changeable lighting states.

‘The hard-working and talented cast, the stonking live band, and an innovative creative and technical crew made this “pet project” a joy to work on, and I’m thrilled that the team has been recognised with this award.’


Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Cast Announced


We are delighted to announce our fantastic cast for the upcoming production of ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ –

Lawrence Jameson – Warren Clark
Freddy Benson – Simon Young
Christine Colgate – Georgina Skinner
Muriel Eubanks – Emily Redfarn
Andre Thibault – Richard Scarr
Jolene Oakes – Jessica Corbett

Alex Elford
Alison Buckingham
Ashleigh Tutchener
Caroline Taylor
Cathy Matthews
Catriona Clarke
Chlo Kitteridge
Chris Nash
Emma Stoye
Frankie Woolgar
Isabelle Kalma
Jenny Lewis
James Martin
Katie Hook
Kerry Kirby-Johnson
Kristian Turner
Lauren Gonnella
Laurie-Lee McDowell
Lucy Sandbach
Magdalena Zun
Susan Sadek
Tara Rose
Zoe Wilson

Director: Stuart Sadler
Musical Director: James Harvey
Choreographer: Kirsty Smith
Production Manager: Oliver Fisher

The ensemble could do with a few more men, so if you haven’t already auditioned and would like to be considered (or know anybody that may be interested), please contact Suzanne at as soon as possible. Rehearsals start 13 March!

Congratulations to all involved!